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New GAC venue same stellar lineup

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WASHINGTON (3/3/08)—It’s a new conference venue, new hotels, but the same stellar quality lineup of speakers and breakout sessions at the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA's) 2008 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) March 2-6. After more than 30 years at the Washington Hilton, CUNA brings its GAC—and a record-breaking crowd—to the Washington Convention Center this year. CUNA expects a new high of 4,500 participants this year, including a record 580 first-time attendees. The conference dates coincide with a scheduled March 6 House Financial Services Committee hearing on the need for credit union regulatory relief and improvement, at which CUNA Vice Chairman Tom Dorety, CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., will testify. The 2008 GAC program features key members of the House and Senate, as well as all three members of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) board. It kicks off on Tuesday with such speakers as retired Gen. Colin Powell, and NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson and Vice Chairman Rodney Hood. During Wednesday’s general session, a record 4,500 participants will hear from House Ways and Mean Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), as well as that panel’s ranking minority member, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Also, on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mt.) will address the GAC attendees. For the first time, the GAC was launched with a free Sunday evening concert, which featured “America,” the folk-rock duo well-known for their hits including “Horse with No Name” and “Sister Golden Hair.” And rounding out the program will be such notables as "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, singer Marie Osmond, known for her work with Children’s Miracle Network, and funnymen Robert Klein and Dave Barry. And as always, a prime feature and focus of the conference attendees will be to participate in Capitol Hill visits to talk to their representatives and senators about key issues of interest to the credit union movement. This year's GAC theme is "Red, White and You," featuring a patriotic design that emphasizes personal involvement in political action on behalf of the credit union movement and its 90 million members.

Inside Washington (02/29/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (3/3/08)--The Federal Reserve Board plans to target credit cards in its proposal to stop unfair and deceptive practices in the financial industry, Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday during testimony before the Senate Banking Committee (American Banker Feb. 29). The proposal could be released next month. It would crack down on double-cycle billing, guide payment allocation and allow cardholders to opt out of interest-rate increases. In addition to the proposal, the Fed also proposed changes to Regulation Z to direct disclosures for credit cards. The Regulation Z proposal could be finalized when the deceptive practices proposal is opened to comments ... * WASHINGTON (3/3/08)--The Bush administration and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have strongly opposed taxpayer-funded lender bailouts to ease the housing crisis, but industry representatives are speculating that the administration could move toward a compromise (American Banker Feb. 29). Though the administration would like to avoid a bailout, it is being pressured, said Brian Gardner, KBW Inc. analyst. H. Rodgin Cohen, Sullivan and Cromwell LLP partner, said Paulson’s opposition to a bailout leaves “wiggle room” to help those in danger of losing their homes. Arthur Wilmarth, George Washington University Law School professor, said he predicted that some government help will be needed. A bailout will happen eventually, and it’s more politically pleasing for the administration to support homeowners instead of financial institutions, he said ... * WASHINGTON (3/3/08)--Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras announced Wednesday that she will leave the FTC later this month. She was appointed by President George W. Bush in August 2004. During her time with the agency, Majoras focused on data security and consumer fraud, including identity theft, spyware and deceptive spam ...